Here’s something that will be on everyone’s lips at the LGBTQ march this Saturday afternoon in Malate: The United States Embassy in the Philippines has issued its first batch of fiancé visas to two same sex-couples: one gay, one lesbian.
Noel “Aeinghel” Amaro and Robert Cotterman met online and plan to get married next month in the United States when Cotterman, who serves in the US military, returns from a tour in Afghanistan. They are the first same-sex couple in the Philippines to be granted a K-1 visa.
“Although same-sex marriage is not yet recognized in the Philippines,” explains the US Embassy in its site, “gay Americans are now able to petition for family-based visas on behalf of their Filipino spouses, fiancés, and their children.”
The second couple to be granted a fiancé visa are Maria Cecilia Limson Gahuman and Maria Carla Antonio, who met through a mutual friend over a decade ago. “Because Maria Limson Gahuman is Filipina, and Maria Antonia is American, however, there was no way for the couple to be together. With their fiancé visa, the couple will transition their their ten-year relationship from long-distance to marriage [i1] in California on December 30, 2013,” explains the US Embassy website.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of the United States removed the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. This means all federal rights and privileges of marriage must be extended to any married couple, regardless of sexual orientation. This extension of rights includes immigration benefits.
Currently, gay couples can marry in 16 of 50 American states, and the nation’s capital.
“In light of these changes, the American Embassy wants to educate gay Filipinos about new visa opportunities. Filipinos in same-sex relationships with Americans are encouraged to view the Visas section of the Embassy website at manila.usembassy.gov for more information.”